She may have been born in Melbourne and helped lead Victory to a historic Westfield W-League Premiership but Emily Gielnik says she can’t wait to play in front of her friends and family in Brisbane.
The Westfield Matildas take on Korea Republic at Suncorp Stadium on 3 March in their second game in the inaugural Cup of Nations.
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Despite enjoying her first season with Victory, Gielnik said she couldn’t wait to run out in the city where she spent almost a decade with Brisbane Roar.
“Obviously I played for Brisbane Roar for eight years so it feels like home for me, Melbourne’s a bit of a second home this season just gone but it’s good to be back,” Gielnik said.
“It’s good to get everyone back together, one big Matildas family, it’s nice that we have it in three different locations, it’s usually in Sydney and Penrith so I think it’s really nice to get a Melbourne game but most importantly close to home in Brisbane.”
Her thoughts were echoed by fellow Queenslander Hayley Raso, who is in her first Westfield Matildas camp since suffering a severe back injury last year.
Raso said the support she had received from her teammates had played a massive role in her recovery.
“We haven’t had a game here in a long time so it’s great, especially us Brisbane girls with our family and friends here, it’s exciting to have that sort of support,” Raso said.
“I’m just so excited to be here, back with the team and back in this environment. It’s a really good environment to be in so it’s exciting to get training and I can’t wait for the games to start.
“[They’ve been] very supportive. It’s important to have a good group of girls around you, people checking in on me even when I was overseas in hospital in America so to be back here with them is great.”
Both players were quick to stress the importance of the Cup of Nations, especially with a FIFA Women’s World Cup in France looming on the horizon.
“It’s great preparation, playing against three key countries and it’s good because internationally you don’t get much time together so it’s really important to get the girls together and get everyone familiar again,” Gielnik said.
Raso too highlighted the high calibre of opposition as crucial to the Westfield Matildas’ hopes of progression in France later this year.
“I don’t think we can take any game lightly, they’re all going to be tough, good opponents so we’ll be up for the challenge and it’s a good way to send us off to the World Cup having these games on home soil,” Raso said.